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LeBron James on Scoring 45 in Cavaliers Win: 'That's What the Doctor Called For'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James talks with a teammate in the second half of Game 7 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, Sunday, April 29, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

With his team facing elimination in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs, LeBron James put the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back and led them to a 105-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Sunday's Game 7.

He stuffed the stat sheet with 45 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals all while shooting 16-of-25 from the field and 2-of-3 from deep.

The four-time MVP pointed to his efficiency when acknowledging such a performance is what the doctor ordered to finally dispatch of the Pacers, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:

"I guess, in a sense, I had to do what I had to do to help us win. One thing about me, I like being efficient, and I know I averaged 42 in the wins, but I was just efficient. Besides Game 6, when I was 7-for-16, I was pretty much efficient throughout the whole series and just trying to keep the defense off-balance, and if they doubled me here or they trapped me here, making sure I get the ball in the right places for my teammates. But that's what the doctor called for, and I had to go out and try to make plays, and I did that."

While James took over Game 7 for extended stretches, his teammates deserve plenty of credit as well. The Pacers battled back from an early double-digit deficit to take the lead before the game settled into a back-and-forth. It would have been easy for Cleveland to wilt when James exited for a few minutes in the third and fourth quarters to go to the locker room, but the supporting cast delivered.

Tristan Thompson notched a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds) despite playing 23 total minutes in the first six games, Kevin Love scored 14 points behind four critical three-pointers, and George Hill and JR Smith each added 11 points.

The Cavaliers did more than just survive with James sidelined, outscoring the Pacers by six during the stretch.

It was an important message from his teammates that they can carry some of the load because James put plenty of miles on his legs just to get out of the first round. McMenamin noted he averaged 41.1 minutes per game in the Pacers series, which marked a significant increase from the 36.9 he averaged a night in the regular season despite playing all 82 games.

"I'm burnt right now," James said, per McMenamin. "I'm not thinking about Toronto right now until tomorrow. I'm ready to go home. Can we? I'm tired. I want to go home."

He will have to start thinking about the Toronto Raptors soon because his Cavaliers start their second-round series on Tuesday, giving him just one day of rest. Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round last year and defeated it in the Eastern Conference Finals the prior year, but Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Co. are arguably better than they've ever been and have a great opportunity.  

The Raptors have home-court advantage and will face James after he expended plenty of energy in a seven-game battle in the first round.

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